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Pipistrel, a light-aircraft manufacturer based in Slovenia, has won a contract to supply India’s military with 194 copies of its Virus SW 80 Garud two-seat trainer. “This is without a doubt the largest contract in the entire 26-year history of Pipistrel,” said Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel’s owner and general manager. The company will produce about seven airplanes per month, over 30 months, to fulfill the contract, with deliveries starting in mid-2016. “This means that for the next two and a half years, half of Pipistrel's production capacity is sold out,” Boscarol said. Pipistrel also will provide training and technical support. All airplanes competing for the contract were tested in extreme conditions that are found in India, including high temperatures and humidity and extreme altitudes.

The Garud trainer will be used to train Flight Safety and Air Wing Cadets. It has been equipped with several special safety features, including a ballistic parachute system, energy-attenuation seats and a Kevlar-reinforced cockpit cell. The airplane can take off and land from rough surfaces. It has three hours of endurance and a service ceiling of about 20,000 feet. The contract also includes an option for an additional 100 airplanes. Pipistrel did not reveal any value for the contract, but according to the website, the deal is worth about $20 million. The company has been negotiating the contract with Indian officials for more than two years.

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A sophisticated missile made in Russia and launched from a rebel-held region of Ukraine brought down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which crashed in July 2014, according to the final report by the Dutch Safety Board. The report (PDF), which was made public today, says the Boeing 777 was cruising at 33,000 feet on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when the missile warhead detonated just outside the left front window of the cockpit. The airplane was sprayed with hundreds of metal fragments and three crew members in the cockpit were killed instantly by the blast. The forward section of the airplane broke off, and with structural integrity lost, the aircraft broke up and hit the ground within 90 seconds. All 298 on board were killed. 

The Russian company that produces the Buk missile system has tried to cast doubt on the investigators’ findings, according to The Wall Street Journal. Yan Novikov, chief executive of Almaz Antey, held a news conference this morning in Moscow, and argued that the company had conducted its own experiments and found the jet had been downed by a different type of missile launched from a different location than the Dutch conclusions, and was likely fired by Ukrainian government forces and not by Russian-backed rebels. The Dutch report also said the Ukrainian government should have shut down the airspace to civil air traffic. A criminal investigation into the incident is continuing.

This video was released by the Dutch Safety Board.

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The latest in what seems to be a serial pattern of freeway landings happened in Boise, Idaho, on Tuesday and it seems to have been the result of fuel mismanagement. A Cessna 210 made a belly landing on I-84, the main route through Idaho's largest city, after the engine quit on approach to the Boise Airport about 7 a.m. The aircraft's owner dealt directly with media inquiries. "He had plenty of fuel in the aircraft," Andy Patrick, owner of Boise-based SP Aircraft, told The Associated Press. "He just made a mistake and forgot to switch fuel tanks. The pilot made an error and wasn't able to make the runway." 

The pilot, who was on a freight flight from Spokane, managed to put the aircraft down without hitting any cars or injuring anyone and the plane is repairable, according to Patrick. The timing wasn't great, however. It closed Boise's main commuter route for the whole morning rush and the aircraft wasn't off the road until after 9 a.m.


The NTSB will hold a safety forum this week on “Humans and Hardware,” from 9 to 5 Eastern Time on Wednesday, to address loss of control, which is the number-one cause of fatal crashes in fixed-wing general aviation aircraft. The event will be streamed live online at the NTSB website. The forum will comprise four panels — industry and government perspectives, human performance and medical issues, pilot training solutions, and equipment and technology solutions — followed by a wrap-up and discussion from 4 to 5. The forum video also will be archived and made available online and on YouTube for viewing anytime.

The panels will include pilots, instructors, industry representatives, and GA advocates as well as officials from the NTSB and FAA. During the last hour, all the panelists will join in a roundtable discussion of the issues and summarize the day’s findings. NTSB board member Earl Weener told AVweb he's especially looking forward to that discussion, which is something the board hasn't done before. "The participants at this forum are the people who can really do something about this problem," he said. All of these segments of GA, from industry to educators to regulators, are all getting on board and ready to seriously address this issue, he said. "We've been pushing for recognition of this issue for several years, and now is really an opportune time to see some changes that will reduce the number of these loss-of-control accidents." A full agenda for the meeting has been posted online (PDF).

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A young pilot took some major steps toward his dream of flying for a living by earning three individual pilot certificates and two type ratings, all in a 48 hour period. But before Preston Allen, a 24-year-old private pilot with 1,200 hours, could earn each piece of paper, he had to crack the books. "He's a very motivated and very hard-working young guy," said flight instructor Dan Gryder, who oversaw the process. In researching the FAA regulations, Gryder said it was Allen who discovered a lot of overlap in the experience and flight time requirements for commercial, instrument, and multi-engine ratings. Then he designed a training path that in some ways was directly opposite to the usual way of progressing through the ratings. For instance, he got his initial instrument rating in a multi-engine airplane, and then his initial commercial certificate in the light twin, all before he got his single commercial. The multi-IFR automatically gave him an IFR rating for singles (but the opposite isn't true) and getting the multi-commercial ticket paved the way for a truncated flight test to get his single commercial. Allen also got second-in-command ratings for the DC-3 and Citation 500.  "When he first approached me about it I didn't think it was possible," Gryder said, noting Allen's persistence paid off in his office and in the air. "It took him 60 days to convince me to do this in 30 days."

To keep costs down, Allen did most of the 70 hours of flying in a single, but he also had access to a Redbird simulator. While only 10 hours of sim time can be counted toward an instrument rating, there is no limit to how much unlogged practice time can be spent rehearsing. Allen spent most evenings alone shooting approaches in the multi-engine configured sim, where he gained a real advantage over the traditional path. The local DPE was cooperative and conducted the tests in the odd order and Allen passed all three checkrides given back to back. Gryder stressed that no corners were cut and all knowledge and flight requirements were met, yielding a better product in less time, and at a lower cost. He said the innovative approach could be used by individuals and flight schools to lower the cost of advanced flight training. Accumulating these three ratings in the traditional method could cost $100,000 or more but Gryder said this "full immersion, multi-first" style of training drastically reduced that. "You can think of it as a lean of peak approach for flight training. It really makes a lot of sense once you stop and think about it," he said.

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The 88Charlies, an organization named after its home airport in Palmyra, Wisconsin, shows how a grassroots approach to teaching kids about airplanes can grow into an organization that makes aviation fun for all.

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To a precious few earthlings who fly in the northern hemisphere, autumn offers denser air for better aircraft performance to clear gilded ridgelines beneath early sunsets — and anyone can fly it all after acing this quiz.

Click here to take the quiz.

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How can one not see the grim humor in last week’s confluence of events that seemed tailor made to tank Third Class medical reform? Hapless doesn't even begin to describe general aviation's fate before the fortunes of a callous world. The first turn of bad timing was obviously the untimely death of an American Airlines captain flying a redeye from Phoenix to Boston. The second is the pathetic meltdown in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.

I spoke with a senior AME I’ve known for many years. And sure enough, there are pilots flying around with First Class certs who have had all manner of cardiac issues, including bypasses. These pilots can be—and should be—issued medicals to return to work. The FAA has carte blanche in keeping such pilots on the shortest possible string with regard to monitored care and ongoing observation in order to maintain the First Class medical under special issuance. My AME source said this monitoring protocol would probably be vastly more stringent than even the most particular cardiologist might recommend, but that’s the FAA for you.

There are two ways this might be interpreted by the political class that could impact discussions about the Third Class at the worst possible moment. One is that medical monitoring is somehow insufficient and if we just had more of it, that American skipper would have never reported for work. Daily EKG anyone? Monthly medical exam? Never mind that there’s no statistical support for this at any level, for any level of medical in any kind of flight operation. Don’t forget that the origin of medicals was bureaucratic, not safety. The government wanted to thin of the herd of pilot applicants after World War II and phony medical requirements was as good a way as any. It worked. It’s still working.

Let’s just recognize that Congress and even FAA managers deal in perceptions as much as in any kind of statistically based reasoning. Want an example of how politics intersects aviation? There you are. Go ahead and froth up with the usual complaints, but this is the political reality of the government/citizen interface.

The other side of this dull blade is that people who argue medicals are a useless waste of time and money have definitively been shown to be right. They had already been shown be right for the last 50 years and the advent of the driver’s license medical for light sport just proves the point yet again. 

We could blindly hope that a bolt of logic would strike the bureaucratic edifice and, as my AME friend argues, we would just do away entirely with medical certification for all classes and all operations. We have a rich statistical history to support this and for a conservative Congress bent on saving money, eliminating the medical would help. It’s postage stamp money, but at least the trend line goes in the right direction. It would also reduce regulation, another oft-discussed ideological bullet point.

This won’t happen for reasons you should readily understand. We are deep into the political realm here and that’s a place where not only does logic not rule, it’s an alien concept. The only way to effectively address this is the way it is being addressed by broad legislation that forces FAA reform. That’s what Sen. Jim Inhofe has been trying to do with his Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2. Yet just to show how perverse all of this can be, some of us don’t like Inhofe because of the little runway dustup down in Texas a few years ago. I’ve received emails saying as much. That’s cool. Just keep not liking him and keep on sweating your medical every year. Or swallow your pride and take help from whence it comes.

And that gets us to the House meltdown. As we’ve reported, Inhofe’s bill is close, ever so close, to at least remaining viable, never mind passing. But because of objections all of us in aviation find preposterous, Inhofe had to entertain amendments and revisions and to broaden the sponsorship of his bill. It’s already unusually well sponsored, which is good. The fact is, bills, even good ones, get waylaid all the time for procedural reasons, for political reasons and for no reason. The founders actually intended it that way so we wouldn’t be buried in laws.

My worry is that now that the lower chamber is in utter disarray, Inhofe’s bill could lose momentum and get sidetracked, amended further or just never come to a vote because the House can’t so much as elect a Speaker, never mind finding an effective one. So that means we have a paralyzed FAA overseen by a paralyzed Congress. It’s not new paralysis of course, it’s just worse. Federal agencies have always worked this way.

There’s a third issue here that’s not much above the surface: the Germanwings accident, in which a psychotically depressed pilot committed suicide and took an entire planeload of passengers with him. Evidently, the FAA is spooked about this and quite likely to use it as leverage to maintain or even increase medical surveillance. FAA managers live in fear of explaining things to Congress, even as they ignore congressional directives. The FAA manager who could courageously explain that the government can’t protect us against everything doesn’t exist. But then you knew that.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping S571 is of such blinding moral purity that a beneficent deity will see that it sails through Congress as if none of this other stuff happened. For the next couple of weeks, I’m thinking I’ll just ignore reality. Having written my Congressman, I don’t have a better plan than that.

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Bose recently introduced Bluetooth capability for its popular A20 headset. AVweb's Paul Bertorelli took a flight trial and shows how an older A20 can be upgraded to Bluetooth.

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In this AVweb sponsored video, we take a close look at Dynon's D2 pocket EFIS.

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Daher's TBM 900 leads the single-engine turboprop market in speed and efficiency.  In this informational video from AVweb, we take a look at the airplane's performance and market appeal.

What Everybody Ought to Know About the CGR-30P from Electronics International

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